The Pirates of the Caribbean movies cut Jack Sparrow’s backstory, but the deleted scene actually reveals a hidden meaning behind why he’s often labelled the “worst pirate“. A truly underrated movie franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean delivers some of the finest swashbuckling action ever committed to screen. Much of the excitement of the Pirates movies stem from the charismatic rogue that is Jack Sparrow, played to perfection by Johnny Depp.
Despite being the protagonist of a franchise literally called “Pirates”, Sparrow often finds himself being referred to as the “worst pirate” that people have ever seen. Despite being profoundly unlucky in many ways, Sparrow isn’t actually a bad pirate at all – he may seem a little inept at times, but he always comes away from his ordeals relatively unscathed. Jack Sparrow’s determination and uncanny ability to get himself out of dire situations actually makes him seem like a relatively good pirate, not to mention the fact that he’s an excellent sailor and navigator, and is excellent at thinking on his feet.
Though elements of Jack Sparrow’s backstory are explored in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, there are key details left out. Deleted scenes and tie-in novels reveal the true nature of Jack’s foray into piracy, as well as his connection with the East India Trading Company and Cutler Beckett. Not only does the hidden backstory make the character of Jack Sparrow feel significantly more fleshed out, but it actually explains why he’s seen as such a “bad pirate” – and why it may not be the insult it appears to be.
Jack Sparrow’s Cut Backstory Explained
Although the extent of Jack Sparrow’s backstory didn’t make it into the finished films, it is still hinted at in his exchange with Cutler Beckett. Sparrow was once a privateer for the East India Trading Company, and was tasked with transporting a ship full of “cargo”. Upon discovering that the cargo was actually 100 slaves, Sparrow absconded with the ship, the Wicked Wench, and set the slaves free. Beckett’s career suffered as a result, and he had Jack branded a pirate for “stealing” the ship full of slaves. What’s more, he had the Wicked Wench burned, sinking Jack’s beloved ship.
Grieving the loss of the Wicked Wench, Jack then made a deal with Davy Jones. Jones agreed to raise the ship in exchange for 100 souls – a price chosen out of irony, given the reason the ship was sunk. The ship’s hull was permanently blackened by the flames, so Jack renamed it the Black Pearl, and set off once more with little option but piracy, thanks to Beckett’s mark. It’s a history that captures the essence of Jack’s perpetual bad luck, and it also explains much about Pirates of the Caribbean‘s story.
Why Jack’s Backstory Makes Him A “Bad Pirate”
Almost as soon as Jack is introduced, Commodore Norrington refers to him as “the worst pirate [he’s] ever seen“. It’s a line that’s repeated a number of times throughout the franchise, but when taken at face value, it doesn’t entirely make sense. Though he may not be the most successful pirate, he is certainly renowned, which, combined with his singular ability to slip away from the clutches of the law, makes him a relatively successful pirate. However, Sparrow’s backstory lends Norrington’s “insult” a different meaning, and it may actually be intended as a compliment.
Given the general definition of a pirate being someone who eschews the laws of the land in favor of more selfish pursuits, Jack is undeniably a pirate – and Beckett even gave him the brand to match. However, Norrington calling Jack the “worst pirate” seemingly refers to the fact that he was branded a pirate for a selfless act, and therefore he fails to embody the true spirit of piracy. Though Jack’s rebellion against the law cannot be denied, his action belie his morally sound nature, which Norrington clearly sees as proof that Sparrow is actually a bad pirate. However, to Norrington, the term “pirate” is an insult, so telling Jack he’s not a very good one may not be quite the condemnation it seems.
How The Backstory Explains An Unanswered POTC Question
All of the more subtle but insistently nagging questions of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise regard Jack Sparrow’s motivations: why is he so obsessed with the being the captain of the Black Pearl, and why is he so reluctant to pay his debt to Davy Jones? Both of these issues prove to be major sources of conflict for the character, and the movies don’t really explore Jack’s reasoning (other than just stating that it’s what he wants to do). However, the backstory gives definitive answers to the questions by backing up what the movies imply with additional context.
The reason Jack is so obsessed with the Black Pearl is largely because of what the ship cost him. Absconding with the ship saw him branded a pirate, and raising it from the bottom of the ocean marked him for death. What’s more, the only way out of his death sentence was to condemn 100 souls to eternal servitude, and Sparrow’s backstory evidences his moral opposition to that idea. Through Jack Sparrow’s cut backstory, his reluctance to maintain his deal with Jones and his obsession with the Pearl not only make more sense, but they actually enrich his character significantly by giving him a strong moral center.
Being A Bad Pirate Makes Jack Sparrow The Perfect POTC Hero
The idea that Jack Sparrow’s morals make him a bad pirate do more than just lend a depth to Norrington’s apparent insults – it actually proves why he’s a perfect hero for the franchise. A series of family-friendly movies about pirates is actually potentially a tough sell, but Jack’s hidden morals secretly make him the ideal protagonist. Technically, he’s a pirate – he earned that status by stealing from the East India Trading Company, but his reasoning for doing so makes him right. Sparrow’s backstory makes him a good man who pretends to be bad in order to fit his reputation. This allows Jack Sparrow to live the roguish and adventurous life of a pirate without actually doing any of the horrific things that pirates often did throughout history. Though his hidden backstory is somewhat tragic, it underpins what Pirates of the Caribbean seemed to be saying about Jack Sparrow all along: he may be a bad pirate, but he’s a good man.